Ralph Klein has gone and it is time to retire Ralph's World. Thanks to all of you who have supported this venture by contributing material and through your comments. It has been fun.

Should we get another blog underway? Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at johnnyslow@gmail.com.

John Slow
January 1, 2007

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Season's Greetings 

From the management and staff at Ralph's World we wish all our readers a happy Hanukkah, a happy Ramadan, and a very merry Christmas.

To those politicians we poke away at please remember that it is only your policies we don't agree with.

Peace on earth!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


As a life long listener to and supporter of the CBC I cannot believe there was anything but political influence behind the choice of CBC programmers to air the the Medicare Schmedicare attack on Canada's belief in the necessity of requiring people of the state as a whole to be the sole source of funds for the health and well being of Canadians.

Keenly aware as we are, here in the Province of Alberta, of the powerful lobbies working toward entering the Medicare field for monetary gain, I cannot help asking you, as Ombudsman, to convince me that there were no financial influences brought to bear on the CBC management for the purpose of postponing the airing of "The Tommy Douglas Story" until after the upcoming election.

Every citizen, who will take the trouble to do so, knows that Tommy Douglas was instrumental in establishing the moral foundations of Canadian Medicare which upheld the principles that no family should be bled of their resources and forced into poverty by long term illness and death; nor should any citizen be prevented from obtaining medical care because of financial constraints. The only way to build those moral principles into the health care system was for all of society to share in the costs.

It cannot be possible that some person or persons of influence with the CBC did not understand that by airing Medicare Schmedicare and postponing The Tommy Douglas Story they were promoting totally unbalanced views of Canada's Health care system and thereby failing to uphold their trust to the people of Canada who look to the CBC for fair and balanced reporting of public affairs.

Submitted by Sandy

Monday, December 12, 2005

Mark Norris and Grassroots 

The Edmonton Journal recently published a story headlined "Norris backers ante up $1M". You can read the story by clicking here.

It is a story of 106 Albertans who have ponyed up $10,000 each to help Mark run for Ralph Klein's job. The names of these generous fellows are listed in the story. The Journal had asked for the names of the donors and they were provided.

Full marks to Mr. Norris for providing the names and for the Edmonton Journal for asking for them and making them public. In a province where financial contributions are so skewed toward the Tory party in power, it is critical that Albertan's know who is contributing the money. Mr. Norris challanged the other contenders - Lyle Oberg, Ed Stelmach, Ted Morton, Jim Dinning to name a few, to disclose the names of the big shooters supporting their campaigns. Don't hold your breath for this to happen.

One thing that struck me as odd though was Mr. Norris's comment that his was a grassroots movement. My picture of grassroots doesn't have millionaire businessmen with $10,000 cheques in it. It's populated with more "ordinary" citizens. People who work hard for their $50,000 a year instead of people who work hard for their $500,000 a year.

The reality here in Alberta is that the Tory Party is the party of the wealthy businessman. The businessmen do their part by giving millions to the Tories and the Tory party does their part by bringing in legislation that keeps business taxes low, weakens the unions, allows the environment to be polluted, charges minimum energy royalties and provides captive consumers to the gas, electricity, insurance, and healthcare corporations.

The grassroots businessmen who gave so generously to Mark will likely give generously to Lyle, Ed, Ted and Jim. We will likely never know if they do or not. But they are businessmen and that's just a cost of doing business in our fair Province of Alberta.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Ant & The Grasshopper & The CEO 

I feel blessed. I do believe I am on the same e-mail distribution list as one of our most esteemed citizens in Alberta.

Let me explain.

Rick Bell of the Calgary Herald wrote an article covering a speech by EnCana CEO and prominent federal Conservative fund raiser Gwyn Morgan; - the esteemed citizen I'm referring to. You can read Rick's article by clicking here and smile back at Gwyn by casting your eyes to the left.

In his speech Mr. Morgan used a Canadianized version of the old Ant and the Grasshopper story. Here's how he put it as described in Bell's article.

He (Mr. Morgan) illustrates his world view telling the fable of the ant who works hard and achieves while the grasshopper plays. The ant stays warm in winter while the cold hopper calls a press conference covered by the CBC which broadcasts to clueless Canadians stunned at the plight of the lazy insect.

The NDP and others demonstrate, the Liberals tax and fine the affluent ant who moves to the States and is a success.

A couple months later, the fat grasshopper gobbles the last of the ant's food while the ant's house, which the hopper now inhabits, crumbles and the government calls a commission after lack of funding is seen as the problem.

To conclude this parable, the grasshopper dies of a drug overdose and the NDP blames it on the government. "How Canadian is that!" states a pleased Morgan.

This sounded strikingly similar to an e-mail I had received a few days ago from a friend on mine who swings with those on the extreme right of the political spectrum. After a little searching I found that e-mail. Here it is.


Hey Johnny. Stick this in your commie pipe and smoke it!



The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his
house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he's a
fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant
is warm and well fed. The shivering grasshopper has no food or shelter, so
he dies out in the cold.



The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he's a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. So far, so good, eh?

The shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others less fortunate, like him, are cold and starving.

The CBC shows up to provide live coverage of the shivering grasshopper, with cuts to a video of the ant in his comfortable warm home with a table laden with food.

Canadians are stunned that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so while others have plenty.

The NDP, the CAW and the Coalition Against Poverty demonstrate in front of the ant's house. The CBC, interrupting an Inuit cultural festival special from Nunavut with breaking news, broadcasts them singing "We Shall Overcome."

Sven Robinson rants in an interview with Pamela Wallin that the ant has gotten rich off the backs of grasshoppers, and calls for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his "fair share".

In response to polls, the Government drafts the Economic Equity and Grasshopper Anti-Discrimination Act, retroactive to the beginning of the summer.

The ant's taxes are reassessed, and he is also fined for failing to hire grasshoppers as helpers.

Without enough money to pay both the fine and his newly imposed retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the government.

The ant moves to the US, and starts a successful agribiz company.

The CBC later shows the now fat grasshopper finishing up the last of the ant's food, though Spring is still months away, while the government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant's old house, crumbles around him because he hasn't bothered to maintain it.

Inadequate government funding is blamed, Roy Romanow is appointed to head a commission of enquiry that will cost $10,000,000.

The grasshopper is soon dead of a drug overdose, the Toronto Star blames it on the obvious failure of government to address the root causes of despair arising from social inequity.

The abandoned house is taken over by a gang of immigrant spiders, praised by the government for enriching Canada's multicultural diversity, who promptly set up a marijuana grow op and terrorize the community.


That's the e-mail. Look's kinda familiar don't you think.

Here's a summary of the ant and the grasshopper story for those that like to keep their perspective of life in simple tablular form. Colour has been used as a visual aid to help readers remember what is right and what is wrong.

Conservative Ant good
Liberal Grasshopper bad
Canadians other than conservatives bad
CBC bad
NDP bad
CAW in particular and unions in general bad
Poverty elimination groups bad
Inuit in particular and aboriginals in general bad
Sven in particular and gays in general bad
Taxes bad
Roy Romanow bad
Toronto Star bad
Immigrants bad
Multicultural diversity bad

I'll keep you posted on any other e-mails that Gwyn and I get.

Update December 10th - 9:30 AM: An alert reader just e-mailed me that the Ant and Grasshopper story has just been posted on the Charles Adler website as one of "Chuck's Favorites". You can check it out here. Nice to see the Conservative boys talking with one voice these days.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Dr. Colleen Flood, originally from Australia, holds the Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy at the University of Toronto. She addressed a large and interested audience of Students and Public on November 23/05 at the UofA.

This is a try at passing on Dr. Flood’s challenge to the assumptions made by the Supreme Court of Canada (Chaouilli June 9/05) as it’s ruling pertains to the future of Health Care. This writer hopes others will correct any errors of information or inadequate interpretations of her presentation.

Theme: The decision reached by the five Justices regarding access to private insurance was based on assumptions that do not stand up against the reality of Canada’s health care system seen in the context of other evidence from the world today.

False Conclusion #1: That he one source of funding for Canadian Health Care constitutes a “monopoly” which is the “cause” of the waiting lists that are presently seen as failing to provide timely access to medical services.

Reality #1: Drawing on her research and experience Dr. Flood points to several systems with varying levels of access to private insurance, (e.g. France) where access to health care is not better than our own and often worse, as in New Zealand.

False Conclusion #2: That having access to private insurance will reduce the burden on the public system.

Reality # 2: This is a “wrong intuition” based on the assumption that medical need is a static quantity. This assumes it’s like a niche market presently being served by one super store that doesn’t have enough personnel or store space to meet customer needs. By authorizing another marketer to move in claiming quicker access to the same products; not only won’t relieve pressure on the main system but will, in fact, attempt to draw from the already limited resources of personnel and space in the main system.
Dr. Flood asks ‘will physicians appear out of nowhere?’ Will market magic create medical personnel out of nothing?

False conclusion #3: Freedom to purchase private insurance will give many more people access to timely treatment.

Reality: A small percentage of people actually do purchase insurance where it is already available. “Ordinary” citizens are by far the majority in all systems. Dr. Flood illustrated that position from several countries. In the US, for example, 40% of the people in the top ten per cent income bracket have insurance. But 60% of ordinary citizens do not have private insurance. In Australia the state subsidizes private insurance. Dr. Flood even questioned how many insurers would cover Dr. Chaouilli’s 61 year old patient whom he claimed was being deprived of access to private insurance.

False Conclusion # 4 That the establishment of another system will not affect the Public System.

Reality: Again she gives examples from other systems- e.g. the Netherlands where 65% are still covered by the Public system and doctors are funded the same whether from public or private sources. Conversely there is motivation in Britain to dispense with publicly covered patients as quickly as possible in order to spend more time with people having higher paying privately insured illnesses.

Conclusion: The Supreme Court did not acknowledge the fundamental problem facing health care i.e. the limited capacity resulting from shortage of personnel and inadequate facilities. Points out that the Canadian Medical Association did not make a submission, nor did the Court talk about capacity. She believes the problem of waiting lists can be solved if Provinces and Federal forces want to. To do so, money and resources must go into increasing the number of trained personnel- costly as that may be.

Putting in an insurance system, no matter how fitted into public medicare, is the worst of all possible solutions.

Submitted by Sandy

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